Do you read Silflay Hraka? It’s a multi-contributor blog that originated the Carnival of the Vanities (the August 20 installment to be hosted by Outside the Beltway). Well, now they’ve started what is sure to be a controversy. Contributor Captain Holley is going to recommend the four basic guns he recommends “to anyone beginning a gun collection.” The first recommendation: A bolt-action centerfire rifle in .308 Winchester.
Allow me to weigh in here. I think there are actually six firearms anybody who shoots should have. These are:
A .22LR caliber rifle
A .22LR caliber handgun
A centerfire bolt-action rifle
A “sport-utility” rifle or, as I call it, your Militia rifle – semiautomatic, detachable magazine fed, in a military caliber.
A centerfire handgun
Of course, you are more than welcome to own more than one of any of these six, but one of each is a minimum. In my case, I have a 10/22 for the rifle, a Ruger MkII and a Contender for the .22 pistol (and I have a serious jones for a Ruger Single-Six), I own several centerfire bolt-action rifles (mostly military surplus sporters), an AR-15, a Mossburg 590, and my Kimber Classic Stainless round out the collection. (I have more than that, but I’m not going to give a complete inventory.) I’m far from completing the collection, however. Next up, when I can afford it, will be a Contender rifle barrel, stock, and forend to give me my first single-shot rifle, chambered in the wildcat Tactical .20 caliber (33 grain Hornady V-Max bullet with a muzzle velocity of 4,000fps.) And eventually, I’d like an FN-FAL, and I’m still looking for a S&W 25-5 .45 Long Colt with a 5″ barrel, and…. Well, you get the idea.
I fully agree with Captain Holly’s recommendation of a Savage Model 10 with a 3-9×40 scope in .308, though. Inexpensive and accurate. But I’d recommend starting with a .22 rimfire. You’ll shoot more and learn more starting with something that doesn’t kick. Recoil is an individual thing, but I’m convinced it’s something you can learn to ignore (up to a certain point, and given reasonable ergonomics of the weapon.) If you start off with a rifle that whacks you pretty briskly, it’s decidedly off-putting. I’m now to the point where I can run 100 rounds through my 1917 Enfield (.30-06) off the bench with very little discomfort, but lot of people complain that the .30-06 kicks too hard. If I hadn’t spent a lot of time firing a No. 4 Enfield (.303 British) and a 96 Swedish Mauser (6.5×55) first, and just jumped in with the 1917, I might feel the same way. (I’m looking forward to getting my 48 Yugoslavian Mauser finished. The original military stock with the steel buttplate was a stout kicker. Perhaps with the new Richard’s Microfit stock with a recoil pad it will be just as comfortable as the 1917. So, if you’re going to start your collection with a centerfire rifle, the Savage Model 10 is an excellent choice – but get it in .223 caliber. Ammo is dirt cheap, and recoil is very light.
Reading the rest of Captain Holly’s recommendations should be interesting.